Bodyguard service is just a mobile app away

BEIJING • People in Qingdao, Shandong province, may soon enjoy a privilege that was once the exclusive domain of business tycoons, pop stars and emperors.

An app to connect people with a personal bodyguard is expected to be released early next month.

And using the app, called Jinyiwei, is as easy as calling a taxi.

"The app has unified more than 50,000 security staff members in 47 companies in the city. Their availability will be indicated in the app's map in real time," said Mr Li Shangshang, one of the app's developers.

The app is named after a network of the secret police in the Ming Dynasty (1368 to 1644) who were under the direct orders of the emperor. Many of its members are portrayed in books and movies as tall, handsome gongfu masters.

For the modern-day Jinyiwei service, prices are expected to range from 70 yuan (S$14.30) to 200 yuan an hour, depending on the services required and the experience of the bodyguard. Many of them have military backgrounds, Mr Li said.

"Our employees need to upload their ID cards, military discharge certificates and permits," he said.

"They are also required to take manners and etiquette classes and wear a uniform at work."

On the target customers, Mr Li said: "Those who don't feel safe, especially when going somewhere uncertain or when carrying valuables, can log on and send requests.

"Those who are confronted with disputes or harassment, but feel it's inconvenient to have police intervene, can try the app; and the right helpers will respond."

He said businesses and organisations also need security services, such as those engaged in the transfer of valuable goods, receiving VIP guests or even during emergencies such as a first-aid situation.

Mr Li added that all services will be provided in compliance with laws and regulations.

"Jinyiwei bodyguards are responsible for customers' safety. If there is a dispute or fight, they need to cooperate with the police instead of escalating the fight," he said.

App co-developer Yan Bing said it is an effective way to upgrade the country's security sector via the Internet and provide more job opportunities, especially for former members of the military.

"We are planning to expand our business network to more cities and even overseas."

CHINA DAILY/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 22, 2017, with the headline 'Bodyguard service is just a mobile app away'. Print Edition | Subscribe